February 21, 2017

My Art Studio Electronic Equipment & New Printer (Yay!!)

As well as all my art materials and supplies, like canvasses, panels, paints, brushes, pencils etc etc I have a number of electronic 'tools' in my art studio here.

Please note this article contains affiliate links, see the bottom of the post for an explanation.

So, my trusty electronic studio gadgets include:

-An Epson 3800 printer which I use to print out my giclee prints. It holds archival ink tanks and is reserved for printing art prints only.
(A giclee print (pronounced "ggee-clay"- say the 'g' as if you're French) is another term for a Fine Art digital print. All prints in my shop are printed right here in the studio using only archival, museum grade quality inks and papers for my prints.)

 -My trusty iMac desktop computer with a 27" screen which really is fantastic for doing artwork on. (I clutter up my virtual desktop just the same as I clutter up my physical desktop; I need space!)
- A Wacom tablet for drawing digitally. (Mine is a little on the old side but it's still doing the job nicely- I'm scared to look at how far this technology has come as I'm sure I'll want to upgrade if I do.)
Drawing Tablet, art studio tools and equipment
My Wacom Drawing Tablet

- An Epson V800 Scanner. I did a lot of research when it came to using scanners for artwork, which could be a whole other blog post. I ended up deciding on the V800. And for anyone that's researching it for scanning large artworks: yes! The lid comes right off! (I could not find that information anywhere- not even from Epson themselves!)
Epson V800 Scanner

-Small toaster oven for baking polymer clay items (as I'd rather not use my food oven).

-Other small items are a lightbox and a cheap hairdryer. Both entirely indispensable when it comes to creating art, in my humble opinion.
High tech stuff

-Then I have a normal everyday printer. I use my everyday printer for printing recipes, enlarging roughs, printing out invoices, the kids homework, and printing things like mailing labels and tags for my products. And... er... printing out numerous copies of Equestria Girl characters for my girls to copy from... *roll eyes here*.

Which is where my new purchase comes in. Way to go Epson for bringing out a cartridge-less printer!!
Epson EcoTank

I spent a small fortune last year on ink cartridges for my cheap everyday Epson printer, but unfortunately it has died and I need to replace it. I could've bought another cheap printer and kept throwing well earned money at new ink cartridges; but I decided to pay more upfront and have purchased a Epson Expression EcoTank Printer ET2500. The ink comes in bottles and you place the bottles directly into the printer. Apparently the bottles print around 4000 pages in black and white or 6500 pages in colour. I will rejoice in not having to replace those darn cartridges all the time! And they always seem to run out at the most inconvenient of times. And the bottles are cheap!  Around $15 AUD per colour (so that's cheaper is US dollars; my US friends) when you actually need to replace.

Perhaps Epson had to come out with something like this, though I'm not sure if other companies have similar versions, but due to so many people feeling dissatisfied and ripped off by ink cartridges I think it was high time something like this came out. I'm very excited to be done with those ink cartridges and I can finally print freely without feeling like I'm printing with the liquid from an expensive bottle of champagne.

I've also ordered 100% recycled copy paper, as I needed some more of that, too.

Just don't tell my two girls that we could potentially be printing out hundreds of copies of Equestria Girl characters. Ok?

Hurry up delivery man!

Check out the Epson Expression EcoTank Printer ET2500 on Amazon.


Jules :)

*Affiliate Information: Affliliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

February 14, 2017

Mosaicing With Kids: A How To with Tips & Safety

This post is all about making mosaics with kids, my 'how- to', tips & safety.
mosaicing with kids, kids craft, craft, tutorial, craft tutorial, DIY
I find mosaic a wonderful craft to do with kids as there's not a lot of skill needed to make a finished product that kids can be proud of, so once you have everything you need you can just jump in and get started. They're also using more specialised materials, things like tiles and grout, which adults use for proper adult jobs, so it can make them feel very clever indeed!
mosaic, art, garden art, art garden
For basic mosaic you don't need a lot of fancy equipment or supplies, and most can be found at the local hardware store. We buy a lot of our tiles online here in Australia from The Mosaic Store, but hardware stores sometimes have craft sections with tiles, then there's other craft stores, $2 shops, and actual tile shops that usually sell the lovely glass tesserae.
Craft supplies, mosaic supplies
Some beautiful millefiori stars from The Mosaic Store
glass pebbles from the garden section of our local hardware store


The tesserae is probably the easiest to start with as it's easy to cut with a pair of tile nippers; and smaller decorative tiles that don't need to be cut.

Supplies needed:

- Various tiles
- Terracotta plant base
- Outdoor PVA glue
- Outdoor tile adhesive
- Outdoor grout in your choice of colour

Tools & other items:

- Tile nippers
- Homemade plastic scrapers cut from empty containers
- Rags
- Soft scrubbing brush
- Latex gloves (grown up size and kid size)
- Eye protection (for when you're nipping tiles)
- Paintbrush for brushing on PVA
Mosaic Tools, mosaic tiles
Tile nippers, glass tesserae, other smaller mosaic tiles, plastic scrapers

Safety tip: Make sure kids are wearing shoes as little shards of tile can be sharp!

Starting out with something like a terracotta plant base is fantastic. The surface is flat so you won't have tiles trying to glue against gravity, and the edge provides a physical border to keep their tiles within a neat shape.

We coat our terracotta pieces first with outdoor PVA wood glue and leave to dry.

Then, we use an outdoor tile adhesive. The one I have is cement based. As long as you get an outdoor tile adhesive you should be fine. I like to mix this away from kids as I don't want them breathing in any cement dust. I just use an old plastic container and the wrong end of a flat paint brush to mix. Once the adhesive is mixed it's not an inhalation risk anymore. Spread a layer of adhesive down for them around 2-3mm thick (1/16").
colorful, colourful, craft, kids craft, kids creating, mosaic tiles, mosaic craft
We keep our tiles organised by colour

I nip tesserae into smaller pieces, and then they just use some of the smaller shaped tiles as they are. You nip by placing the nips at the edge of a tile while holding the tile with your other hand. Press down and it will break into two. Some tiles break nice and evenly, others may not. Practise with a few. Wear your eye protection and do this away from kids so that little bits of broken tile don't fly towards them.
They can then glue their tiles onto their terracotta base. I have found some kid sized latex gloves in our local supermarket which have been perfect for protecting little hands from the adhesive. Try and get them not to butt tiles hard against one another so remind them to leave a little gap. I always explain to kids that making mosaics is kind of like doing a puzzle; you just find where a piece seems to fit and place it in. Another thing is we don't stack tiles on top of each other. This may seem obvious but to a kids fresh mind, it's not! I love their boundless ideas. Try also to get them to not leave big open spaces. Again, I'm not too concerned, but for the longevity of the piece, it's best not to leave big gaps between tiles.

So:
- leave a little gap
- don't butt tiles hard against one another,
- place tiles side by side, not on top of each other.
Kids also sometimes get the right and wrong side of the tesserae mixed up. The bumpy side is the wrong side, the smooth side is the right side. Have a chat to them first and explain and show them this. You may have to keep reminding them! Some will still keep mixing them up, but it doesn't matter too much.
Smooth side is the right side!
When they are happy with their arrangement it's time to leave it to dry for as long as the adhesive's instructions.

*Sometimes kids get a bit messy with the adhesive. It helps to go back when the adhesive is dry but not rock-hard and scrape a bit of the excess adhesive off the top of some tiles and between them if there's too much.
Scraping some excess adhesive away with a piece of tile (a nail could also work)

Then, we grout! Again, I mix it up to the consistency of thick cream away from kids so they don't breathe the dust. Then we use little homemade plastic scrapers (cut from plastic containers) to spread the grout on. This part is messy and therefore fun!

Plop it on and scrape it all around to make sure you fill all the gaps between the tiles. Wear gloves for this bit.

Once it's done and it looks like it's starting to dry off a bit you can take a soft scrubbing brush and start to scrape the excess grout off the front of the tiles. (We also have a stiff paintbrush here that did the job on a previous project too.)

Then use a dry cloth to polish. If there's any staining on the sides of the dish that you don't want, wipe that away with a wet cloth.
And then you're done! Let it dry before you put into the great outdoors.

It's so satisfying creating something that will last and pretties up the garden.
Proud creators
In situ :)

And once you've mastered the basic skills you could progress onto other items such as plant pots or picture frames.
Miss S with her mosaic plant pot

I hope you enjoyed the mosaic how-to & tips from me. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will get back to you, and be sure to let me know if you try mosaicing with kids!

Jules :)

February 10, 2017

A Local Art Gallery- The Station Gallery

We have a local arts gallery called The Station Gallery in Yarragon, which is not far from me here in West Gippsland (Victoria, Australia).

Yarragon is a pretty cute place to visit along the highway, with cafe's and gift shops. Well worth a visit.
Colourful mosaic ladies, sculptures
 "Jessica & Gina" by Jo Stewart

I haven't been into the gallery for a while (it's always the way isn't it, you don't visit what's in your own backyard!) but I popped in there recently to view the current mosaic exhibition they have running.
"Beachside" by Dot Thorne

I always find it's nice to get out and view work in the flesh rather than looking at it through a computer screen or on my phone. It always gives me a bigger dose of inspiration.
"The Wise One" by Alene Bonser
Left: "Patchwork" by Viv Hordern, Flowers by Colleen Bright
colorful,colourful, artwork, mosaic, art, paint palette, rainbow art
"Painter's Palette" by Elisabeth Smoorenburg
Mosaic, sculpture, art, art gallery
"Siam" by Colleen Bright
Top: "Whitsundays" by Janet Wyllie 
Bottom: "Small Fish" by Colleen Bright

I couldn't resist taking a shot of these soft- sculpture birds. As well as the current exhibition there's also pieces like these, as well as handmade jewellery on display.
Soft sculpture art birds
"Oracle Birds" by Judy Boaler

I've had a couple of pieces in the gallery in the past. I really must pull my finger out and get more involved with the local gallery!

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The Station Gallery is located at the Yarragon Railway Station, Princes Highway, Yarragon Victoria. Opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday 10.15am - 4pm.

Jules :)

February 06, 2017

New Modern Style Brooches/ Pins in The Shop

Hello!

I have some new brooches/ pins that have just hit the (virtual) shelves!
clay jewelry, statement jewelry, brooch, handmade jewelry
They are handmade from polymer clay, hand- formed, hand painted, unique, arty, and bold.
bronze accent handmade brooch, hand painted jewellery, colorful & unique
modern jewellery, modern jewelry, polymer clay, handmade
Each brooch is rolled out from the clay, then I carve each one out in the flower shape that I am currently obsessed with. I am not sure when I will be done with this flower shape. It appears in lots of art & paintings that I do.
unique, handmade, hand painted jewelry, handmade brooch
I then add some texture and bake.
colorful unique style brooch with bronze accents
Each is hand painted just as I would a painting; individually and each has no plan when they are started. I just get a 'feel' for a certain colour and just start painting away, adding more colour and texture as I go. It's quite intuitive and I stop when I feel no more urge to add any more colour anywhere and when I feel it is finished.
colorful unique modern brooch, handmade, hand painted
I think they make quite a statement and would suit someone with a love of colour and creativity.
clay jewelry, modern, bright, colorful, brooches, collection, jewelry collection, handmade
You can find a range of these brooches in this modern flower range now in the shop.

Jules :)

January 31, 2017

Art Book Review & Road Test: Daring Adventures in Paint by Mati Rose McDonough

Today I'm chatting about the art book Daring Adventures in Paint by Mati Rose McDonough.

This post contains affiliate links (see bottom of post for explanation).
Art book, creativity, creative book, book review

I have admired Mati Rose McDonough's artwork for a while now. She has this amazing ability to create modern artworks that look like they are directly from the inner child. Like gallery-quality-kids-paintings! And it may look like an easy thing to do, until you try to do it. It is in fact, so hard to do. Personally I think she has perfected it.
Some of Mati Rose's work. Those elephants are just so wonderful.

In Daring Adventures in Paint Mati includes ideas and prompts for creating art, and shares some techniques that she uses.

She talks about ideas for getting inspired, plus where she personally pulls inspiration from. I always love to hear where other artists get their inspiration from.

There's an honest story in there about her own beginnings and feelings as an artist (and I can totally relate). 

She talks about habits and rituals and finding your own style/ voice. All important stuff. Being an artist and creating is not all about the physical act of painting or making, it's a whole jumble of feelings, life experiences and your perspective that make up the unique-you, which all comes together to make the artist that creates. She talks about finding your own unique voice: "Your voice is a mixture of all the sparkliness and grit that tells your story." I love that. 

I also love the bright colour and the beautiful photography in the book.

I think you would gain something from this book if you like the style of Mati's work, and are interested in learning about some of her techniques and how she creates her paintings.

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So, here's the road test! The book goes through creating a piece of artwork, and you see how she completes each stage until the painting is finished at the end of the book. There are also other paintings in there with different techniques explained.

I chose to create my background with a few techniques Mati describes, including covering the background with some paint applications with a couple of Mati's techniques, and I also chose to do some collage with decorative paper. 
collage, mixed media, art, painting, work in progress, acrylic paints, modern
Paint, collage, then more paint

I then chose to invite collaboration (another prompt in the book). Luckily I have two little artists living in my house! "Miss 6!... I need you to draw a tiger!" We both have a thing for tigers lately.
Kid creating art, drawing, painting
In she came and sat down and boldly drew a tiger. I've said it before and I'll say it again; we need to learn from kids' fearlessness when it comes to creating art. She had no issues about taking the pencil and just drawing top & centre over my art!

I then continued with some collage and added a few more elements here and there. In the book it describes placing other elements over the top of your prepared background so I used some of the ideas in the book plus a little artistic license.

I like the previous collage element and how you can still see a glimpse of the patterned paper above the tigers head.
painting process, art, collage, mixed media, colourful art
And then the finished painting. 
A mixed media collage artwork, modern, colorful painting
kids art, drawing, modern art, art, painting, mixed media, kids drawing
Close up detail of Miss 6's tiger

I had fun with Daring Adventures in Paint and I'm sure this book will be out on my coffee table often for random perusing.

I hope you enjoyed this review & road test. Do you own or would love to own Mati's book? Or love her artwork as I do?

Jules :)

*Affiliate Information: Affliliate links help me earn small commissions on products (at no extra cost to you), which helps support my love of blogging and sharing creative things. I only ever recommend or link to products that I'm genuinely into.

January 24, 2017

Craft Tutorial: Decorative Mosaic Heart Wall Hanging

Yay, a new DIY craft project! I was super happy with how this idea came out and hope you love it too!
Materials you'll need:

-Air dry clay
-A variety of beads including seed beads, and other decorative items to mosaic; you could use buttons, tiles, gemstones... see what your stash holds or your local craft store
-Acrylic Paint 
-Decorative Papers with small designs
-Gloss sealer/ medium (only if you're not using Mod Podge)
-Tacky Craft Glue; I use a non toxic glue called "super-tac glue". It's similar to PVA but dries a bit faster holding bigger objects like for this tutorial
-Embroidery thread in your chosen colours
-Tassel
-Mod Podge (Optional)

Other useful items: cutting mat, fine/ embroidery scissors, needle & thread, clay tools, scalpel or similar
Note: You make your "love" tile from a printed image so it looks a little different than the tile in the above photo. But still awesome!

Instructions:

Download the template here and print out at a high quality at 100% size. Cut the heart template out. Take some air dry clay and roll out to approx 5mm thickness (3/16") on your cutting mat. Place your heart template onto the clay and cut around. Smooth edges with a clay tool or your fingers. Poke a hole for hanging in the top and bottom of the heart shape with a pointy clay tool. 
Next, we are going to make some of the mosaic "tiles" with your decorative papers.
Roll out some more clay to around 4mm (3/16") thickness. Cut out little squares/ rectangles/ triangles/ odd shapes the sizes you would like your tiles. Make around half a dozen for one heart. Make a longer piece 4.5cm x 1.5cm (1 13/16 x 9/16") that you will glue the "love" type image onto. Smooth the edges and make sure they are flat. Leave the heart shape and the tiles for around 24 hours or until dry.

Now make up the tiles:

Cut out little pieces of paper slightly larger than the shapes and paste the back with Mod Podge or PVA- type glue. Press onto the shapes firmly and leave for a minute or so. Trim around the edges with some fine scissors. Paint the fronts of your "tiles" with the mod podge or gloss sealer, and paint the edges with coloured acrylic paint. Make the 'love' tile in the same way.
Take some acrylic paints and paint the heart all over, front and back. I used some bright green with touches of yellow and turquoise on this one.
I also made some polymer mosaic shapes for my heart, but you can use the paper tiles and other decorative pieces for your heart. Note: I am creating a tutorial on how to make the polymer clay tiles that will be available in the near future.
Testing out some pieces on a heart (this one features a polymer clay love tile); looking good!

We are going to put a rim of tacky glue around one side of the heart, string some beads onto some thread and start gluing them down. I chose beads that would fit onto a normal sewing needle. Keep stringing beads and gluing them down until you frame the whole outside of the heart.
Now, cover the whole inside of the heart with your tacky glue, and place your mosaic components on to your liking, leaving gaps between the decorative elements.
Once you have all the larger pieces in place, sprinkle seed beads into all the left over gaps. Careful when you are gluing and placing your pieces not to cover the two holes in the heart. Once the glue has dried sufficiently you can shake off the excess seed beads.
Thread some embroidery thread onto a needle and sew a tassel and some beads onto the bottom of the heart. I looped through the heart a few times as I liked the look of thicker cotton at the bottom. 
I looped and tied some silver thread for the top hanger, then sewed that on after I had sewed into the top of the heart and threaded some beads on.
You are done! Hang & enjoy!
I made a range of the hanging hearts that are now available in my Etsy shop. So if you'd love one made by me, head on over there to check them all out.
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, and please let me know if you try it out, I'd love to see your creation!

Jules :)
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